Caltrans Adds HOV Lanes to I-5 Near Sacramento
Upgrading to an Advanced Highway: Caltrans and Teichert-Granite Enhance I-5 Corridor with HOV Lanes and Pavement Rehab
Heavily traveled Interstate 5 near Sacramento is receiving a $370 million rehabilitation and an addition of two high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes to relieve congestion.
“The main scope is the pavement rehabilitation and adding of HOV lanes,” says Girmay Beyene, Resident Engineer for construction at California Department of Transportation (Caltrans).
I-5 was built 40 years ago, completed in 1975, and the pavement remains the same. Caltrans has made emergency repairs, but it was clearly time for a more permanent solution. More than 150,000 vehicles travel on this highway daily.
The Interstate 5 Corridor Enhancement Project will repair and repave 15 miles of highway in Sacramento County, from south of Elk Grove Boulevard to the American River Bridge. Scope includes repairing and repaving the damaged road; adding two HOV lanes, one in each direction on the inside, with no plans for tolling at the present time; widening two bridges to the inside to accommodate the HOV lanes; replacing a pedestrian crossing; building eight maintenance vehicle pullouts; constructing sound walls; installing new ramp meters and fiber optic lines; and extending entrance and exit ramps and auxiliary lanes, to ease entry and exiting from I-5 with less weaving on the mainline.
Funding and the Project Team
Funding for the project entailed $280 million from the State Highway Operation and Protection Program; $48.3 million from the SB1-Solutions for Congested Corridors Program, passed by the legislature in 2017; $8.5 million from the Sacramento Area Council of Governments Congestion Management and Air Quality Improvement Program; and $33.2 million from local taxes.
Caltrans designed the upgrade in house. The department awarded the $275 million construction contract to the joint venture Teichert-Granite, the low bidder, on May 31, 2019.
The partners are Teichert Construction of Sacramento and Granite Construction Co. of Watsonville, California. The two firms own asphalt plants and other resources in the area.
Both companies have deep roots in California, dating back to the 1800s.
Adolph Teichert, an immigrant from Germany in 1866, went to work for the California Artificial Stone Paving Co. in the 1870s. He formed his own company in 1887, and with his son grew the business. Since then, Teichert has developed a mix of business, including the construction company and a materials firm.
In 1922, the Granite Rock Co. created Granite Construction Co., set up in a tool shed at the quarry, with $29,180 in contracting equipment. The company grew through the years. As it approaches its centennial, Granite remains a force nationally in the transportation construction industry.
Splitting Northbound and Southbound Construction
Construction began in July 2019 and is scheduled to finish in December 2022. Everything is being built in the existing right of way, and there are no environmental concerns. Traffic has been slowed to 55 mph during construction.
Teichert-Granite started on the project early and phased the work. Teichert is handling the northbound lanes and Granite the southbound lanes.
Maintaining traffic flow on the highly congested highway has been a priority. Lane closures are limited to only nighttime during the first three phases, but come phases four and five, in 2021, the lanes will go from four in each direction to two in each direction during 16 55-hour closures, as crews pave with the long-life pavement.
“It will be the most tedious for us,” says Dennis Keaton, Spokesman for Caltrans. “It will be quite the challenge.”
Caltrans has hired a vender to help with community outreach to keep citizens and commercial traffic aware of the construction activity.
During the first phase, crews have been working on the ramps in some locations, installing concrete barriers, widening the bridge structures, installing fiber optic cable, and paving the section north of downtown Sacramento. Crews are performing most of the work at night. Caltrans has worked to ensure the community knows about the nighttime activity and any traffic changes.
Next up, in phase two, in summer 2020, crews will work on the outside widening for most of the project and performing asphalt overlay between Morrison Creek and Freeport Boulevard. The contractors are using GPS technology.
The Caltrans design strategies included breaking up the existing concrete to use as a base for the new asphalt pavement. That eliminates hauling the old concrete away.
“We are cracking the existing concrete, and we will have a stronger base,” says Beyene. “What is unique is we are not wasting any material.”
Another interesting feature is the asphalt mix used to pave the road. It’s a blend of oil and specific aggregates.
“It’s designed to last 40 yeas, based on performance testing,” Beyene says. “This is the first time it’s been tried nationwide. This is the biggest project using this mix.”
In addition to all of the paving and construction, the project includes technology upgrades. The joint venture will add ramp meters and fiber optic lines, as part of the state’s Intelligent Transportation System. One of the early contractor tasks was installing the electrical conduit for the ramp metering system. When vehicles enter a ramp, meters regulate the traffic, avoiding free flow onto the highway.
Sensors in the I-5 corridor allow the department to monitor the speed of vehicle travel. The public can access the information from the Caltrans website or app.
“When this project is finished, it will show how much of an improved highway it is,” Keaton says. “A lot of people in this local area and the long-haul truckers are familiar with this section and how deteriorated the pavement had become over the years and how congested it had gotten with a larger population. We’re optimistic how this project will improve the overall flow of traffic.”